Strong bloodlines (cont.)
Posted: Thursday March 27, 2008 4:55PM; Updated: Thursday March 27, 2008 5:56PM
Przybilla finds the touch
Blazers center Joel Przybilla had a career-high 26 boards in last Saturday's win over the Clippers, but it might not be his most noteworthy accomplishment this season. The 7-foot-1 veteran is also shooting a career-best 66.4 percent from the foul line. Prior to this season, Przybilla owned a career 48.5 percent mark and had never shot better than 53.2 percent in his seven seasons.
Przybilla credits Blazers assistant coach Monty Williams with helping him overhaul his technique. The two began working last year after Przybilla had knee surgery and was forced to sit out the final two months of the season. The trick, he said, is keeping the ball in front of his head on the release.
"It's like a golf swing," Przybilla said. "The less movement you have, the less chance you have of making a mistake.
"A lot of guys, when they get to 28 or 29 years old, don't want to change," he added. "For me, I knew I needed it. It was a goal of mine to get to 65 [percent]. I just put in a lot of work, a lot of effort, a lot of time. So far, it's paid off."
Wizards center Brendan Haywood is another veteran big man who has improved his free-throw touch significantly this season. The 7-foot center is shooting 73.3 percent, a big improvement over his 61.8 career percentage. Like Przybilla, Haywood gives much of the credit to working with an assistant coach -- in this case, Wizards shooting coach Dave Hopla.
Hopla, who joined Eddie Jordan's staff this season, has definitely made an impact on the Wizards. Caron Butler (91.6 percent) and DeShawn Stevenson (79.7) also are shooting career bests from the line, while Antawn Jamison (76.3) is near his best. As a team, Washington ranks fourth in foul shooting (78.6) after finishing 11th last season (76.5).
C-Webb hangs 'em up
Chris Webber's decision to end his brief comeback with the Warriors this season and retire brings to a close a memorable 15-year career. The talented big man was a five-time All-Star, a former Rookie of the Year and a former No. 1 overall pick with career averages of 20.7 points and 9.8 rebounds. During his best days with the Kings, before blowing out his knee, he was a legitimate MVP candidate. He was a terrific passer, and no big man ever had better hands.
Webber's career was marked by some selfish and immature acts, however. He had a nasty run-in with Don Nelson in Golden State during his rookie season. In 2002, he pled guilty to lying to a grand jury investigating the actions of a Michigan booster. Michigan eventually forfeited its Fab Five records and deleted Webber's name from its record books.
Webber, of course, also will be remembered for his infamous timeout at the end of the 1993 NCAA championship game as a member of that Michigan squad. It was an unfortunate incident for a 20-year-old to have to live through. Webber, to his credit, learned to laugh about it. In 1993, he founded a charitable organization for kids and named it the Timeout Foundation.
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